Vegetable Tribe Trend: From Root To Leaf

By Kate Hackworthy - www.veggiedesserts.co.uk

Eating ‘root to leaf’ means cooking with all of the edible parts of the plant. That means using the parts you would normally throw away, such as cauliflower leaves and broccoli stalks, carrot greens and watermelon rinds. Recently, the spotlight has been shone onto the absurdities within the food chain, and the trend for reducing food waste has surged. Food cooperatives have sprung up, while community fridges, food sharing apps and even making beer from waste toast has been launched to help combat this issue.

I believe root to leaf cooking is the best way to avoid food waste. We need to have enough respect for our food to stop binning or composting the parts of plants that are perfectly edible. I looked at my full compost bin one day and thought there must be a better way. I began researching what parts of plants were edible, and my passion grew from there. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘War on Waste’ campaign has thankfully brought the movement to the masses.

Eating root to leaf isn’t a new concept, but it seems that recently we’ve started to realise the importance of respecting food. Wonky veg is now back on the menu and eating local, sustainable food is normal. Root to leaf eating is a logical extension of this: a wonky, locally-grown carrot is more than just its root. We can buy better produce while still saving money if we eat all of its edible parts.

Often eating root to leaf means coming up with dishes on the spot. If I’m making miso-roasted cauliflower using the florets, then I might chop the leaves up and make a stir fry to go with it. If I have carrots, and their greens are attached, then I’ll snip the greens into a salad.

I love creative cooking and making a concerted effort to reduce food waste. My favourite root to leaf dish is probably roasted beetroot with beet leaf pesto and chopped beet stems. It’s flavourful, and you can make the meal with a few beetroots and some store cupboard ingredients.

An easy way to eat root to leaf is to seek out quality vegetables with as much of the plant attached as possible. Carrots are often sold with their greens removed, but buying them from a veg box scheme, greengrocer or farmers market means you have extra usable food.

Getting fresh beetroots with their stems and leaves attached means that you can turn the humble beet into something special.

Just add some nuts, garlic, olive oil, parmesan and lemon juice to whiz up a quick pesto, slather it over the roasted beetroots and sprinkle with chopped beet stems. It’s vibrant, delicious and uses the entire beet with no waste.

The versatility of humble veg shouldn’t be taken for granted. Make the most of every part of your vegetables on a Leisure range cooker. Sautée your swede, garnish with garlic and boil your broccoli on a cooker that fits perfectly into your kitchen. Choose from gas or electric range cookers, or for the best of both worlds, pick a dual fuel range cooker.

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